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Yasmin Dignam

Beyond the Binary: Navigating Transcendence

This piece was inspired by my dissertation topic on trans* self-authorship, essentially the idea that trans* authors should represent themselves and write themselves into the narrative around trans* identities in order for visibility and authentic representation. While researching this topic, my attention was drawn to some of the key topics around trans* identities, especially regarding societal treatment and perceptions of what it means to inhabit a trans* identity. 


My creative work explores the disparities and inequalities faced by trans* individuals in the health care system, especially in the NHS. Gender-affirming health care is vital to helping some trans* identities experience gender euphoria, allowing themselves to inhabit a body that corresponds with their gender identity, in order to outwardly express themselves to society. The wait times faced by trans* people are around five years for the first appointment at a gender identity clinic. There are barriers to even getting this referral and I wanted to incorporate this into my art piece because I feel as though it is a pertinent issue to achieving trans* equality. 

I also wanted to incorporate representation of trans* embodiment. For this I used abstract representation and line drawing to represent bodies. This was inspired by one of the key scholars I discussed in my dissertation, Jack Halberstam, who says ‘given the over-exposure of trans bodies to fetishizing looks, couldn’t abstraction offer a method of representing, complicating, dispersing and concealing trans embodiment all at one’. The lines also represent the fluidity of gender identity. The use of natural imagery also is commonly used in trans* art, to further represent fluidity and diversity in bodies and gender. 


I used the colours typically utilised to represent gender, blue and pink; however, I used watercolour to be able to blur and fade these colours, representing how the boundaries of gender can be blurred and transcended, thus deconstructing the societal norms of gender in order to embrace the full spectrum of gender identity and embodiment.

Trans* is used as a more inclusive term as of 2010 and has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The asterix allows the term to be an umbrella term, including non-binary, gender non-conforming, agendered individuals etc. This moves beyond the inclusion and societal assumption that still places trans* subjects in a binary (i.e. transman or transwoman), and allows it to better incorporate diversity and fluidity of gender identity.

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